Electroplating of Hard Glassy Metals

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					                 TECHNOLOGY Opportunity
                                                                            O   P T I C S   T    E C H N O L O G Y

                 Fast, Low-Temperature

                 Electroplating of Hard Glassy Metals
                 NASA seeks companies interested
                 in licensing this coating
                 technology for

                 Developed at NASA           Marshall Space Flight Center    (MSFC), this technology is a novel
                 method for electroplating ultra-high-strength glassy metals—nickel-phosphorous and nickel-
                 cobalt-phosphorous—in a variety of alloys with different properties. Traditionally, these metals
                 are deposited onto substrates via electroless deposition. NASA Marshall’s technology combines
                 the material properties associated with electroless deposition with the many process advan-
                 tages afforded by electroplating. This innovative technique offers several benefits and can be
                 used in numerous commercial applications.

                 • Process is lower temperature than electroless deposition (40–65 °C vs. 85–90 °C).
                 • Coatings are high strength (1,930 MPa) and high hardness (50–52 on Rockwell C scale).
                 • Residual stress from tensile to compressive can be controlled in real time.
                 • Plating rates are faster than with electroless deposition (6.35–25.4 µm/hr).
                 • Plating is highly efficient (~90% at 45 °C).
                 • Process requires less maintenance, has low ventilation needs, has a low operations cost,
                   and exhibits less burn and fuming than conventional techniques.
                 • Versatile process can accommodate a variety of nickel alloys, from nonmagnetic to
                   highly magnetic.
National         • The technology offers a very long process life span because it does not suffer from
Aeronautics        solution-phase precipitation, which requires constant stripping of equipment.
and Space
                         The Technology
                         NASA Marshall Space Flight Center has developed an innovative new process for electroplating
                         nickel-phosphorous and nickel-cobalt-phosphorous into high-quality, ultra-hard coatings. These
                         metals usually are deposited onto parts by electroless deposition, which involves placing the part
                         in a bath containing nickel ions that evenly coat all exposed surfaces. Although it yields a high-
                         quality coating, electroless deposition does not allow for much process control, requires high
                         processing temperatures, and has a slower deposition rate than with electroplating. Better process
                         control is available through electroplating, which involves placing a voltage across a nickel
                         electrode (i.e., anode) and the part in a solution (i.e., cathode) and thus driving the nickel to
                         coat the part via electrolytic processes.

                         Since NASA needed hundreds of high-quality X-ray mirrors for its next generation X-ray
                         observatories, researchers sought to develop a metal deposition process that yielded high-quality
                         coatings similar to electroless deposition but with the process controls provided by electroplating.
                         This technology is the result of their extensive research.

                         NASA Marshall’s technology enables stress-free plating, deposits glassy metal alloys at higher
                         rates, and provides deposition at a much lower processing temperature than with electroless
                         deposition. Plating rates are constant and predictable, and coatings can be extremely hard. The
                         versatile process can be used to electroform free-standing shapes with any specified size or
Commercial               thickness using soluble anodes for metal replenishment. Coating materials can range from
Applications             nonmagnetic to highly magnetic metals, metals with glassy nickel properties, free machining
• Telescopes,            alloys, corrosion-resistant alloys, decorative blue oxides, and nonreflective black oxide. This
  microscopes            process also mitigates the need for constant chemical metal replenishment. The phosphorous is
                         replaced at 1:1 consumption, unlike the 5:1 rate of electroless processes. Buildup of harmful by-
• Compact discs
                         products is minimal, and solutions can be left unattended for very thick deposit growth. These
• Computers              features result in a safer and more environmentally favorable process.
• Chromium
                         Commercial Opportunity
• Automobiles            This technology is part of NASA’s technology transfer program. The program seeks to stimulate
• Decorative,            commercial use of NASA-developed technologies. A patent application has been filed for this
  wear-resistant,        technology, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center seeks companies interested in licensing it
  corrosion-resistant    for commercial uses. NASA is flexible in its agreements, and opportunities exist for exclusive,
  coatings               nonexclusive, and exclusive field-of-use licensing.
• Molds
• Aircraft, military
  components                       For More Information
                                   If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA’s technology transfer
                                   program, please contact:
                                            Peter Liao                                    Sammy Nabors
                                            NASA Technology Applications Team             NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
                                            Research Triangle Institute                   Technology Transfer Department
                                            Phone: (919) 541-6124                         Phone: (256) 544-5226
                                            Fax:     (919) 541-6221                       Fax:     (256) 544-3151
                                            E-mail: pliao@rti.org                         E-mail: sammy.nabors@msfc.nasa.gov
                                                   More information about working with MSFC’s Technology Transfer Department is available online.
                                                                         w w w. n a s a s o l u t i o n s . c o m

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